Over the 23 years now that I have been practicing physical rehabilitation, I have treated not only a large number of total joint replacement patients but, many general surgical patients as well.
When it comes to your recovery however after total joint replacement surgery, and how you can improve and make it as beneficial as possible, there are a couple of basic instructions you want to follow to help speed up your recovery and re-energize your body.
Most of us that have had a knee, hip or shoulder replaced understand that lethargic feeling we go through for several weeks after surgery. That comes from a number of things starting the physical toll body from the actual surgery itself to the medications that have been prescribed.
One of the best things you can do first of all to help clear the toxicity of medications and anesthesia from your body is to flush your system out with water.
Stay hydrated with fresh water and drink a lot of it or at least what you can tolerate. If you are not a heavy water drinker, to begin with, you may find this difficult but start slowly as long as your surgeon has not placed fluid restrictions on you for some other medical reason.
Water helps in flushing the cells in your body out, it cleanses your kidneys and, helps clear your mind as well. Water acts as a flushing agent in other words and provides hydration to all your cells throughout your body helping them to achieve maximal performance in assisting in your expedite recovery.
Your food intake and the quality of it will be a vital part of your recovery after surgery.
Many will find it difficult to come home after three days in the hospital and eat like they should. Again your body has undergone a very stressful event due to surgery and, the medication you have been given has slowed down your overall metabolic processes.
Between the surgery itself and add to that pain medication that has been prescribed, it has a way of leaving the desire for food at the bottom of your list of priorities.
Start by eating very small amounts of food. The important thing is you have to start eating something to not only feed your muscles and help them in the strengthening process but, you want to get your GI tract back up and running as well.
Your digestive system again is brought to a complete standstill during surgery and getting it to start functioning is vital to your recovery.
This is also the time to make sure each meal has both some protein and slow digesting carbohydrates mixed in together to help with fueling your body for your physical rehabilitation sessions and the healing process in general.
Your muscles need protein to strengthen themselves and to help in the healing process of the soft tissue.
You need the complex carbohydrates to help energize your body and keep your body from getting its protein sources by stripping it from your muscles that need it now more than ever.
For more information also I have attached a food chart with some ideas to help you as well.
Starting your day with an egg omelet with potatoes and spinach, for instance, is a way to get your body ready for the rigors of recovery. Fruit and plain yogurt first thing for those of you that don’t like a big breakfast is another example of protein and carbs to help build your body during the recovery process.
Its been found that smaller more frequent meals also is utilized by your body better as well and, does not put a heavy burden on your digestive system either.
If you expect to recover fully after surgery, your diet and fluid intake are just one of several areas that you need to concentrate on to help with your recovery.
I bring this up due to the fact it is a part of the recovery process that I have seen over the years not getting a lot of attention.
Talk to your surgeon and home health nurse or, physical therapist for ideas as well when it comes to your course of action that you can take to help give your body all the tools its needs during this important time.
The fuel you put into your body will determine how smoothly and efficiently it runs not only during your recovery but for the rest of your life.
Richard Haynes PTA, CPT
Total Joint Fitness LLC